Blog Banner

Jones relishing rematch with Australia in U20s Championship

30th May 2018

Fly-half Ben Jones is looking ahead to the opening day of the World Rugby U20 Championship - and a meeting with the Junior Wallabies - with confidence.

Jones is just one of four Cardiff Blues rookies in the starting lien-up, with two more on the bench, for the Béziers encounter.

It is the second time Jones has faced Australia at the U20 Championship following his involvement last season but he is ready for round two.

"The boys have settled in well since we arrived in Perpignan on Saturday," says the 19-year-old. "We've had a good couple of days in training, sharpening things up. Everybody's looking forward to playing in Béziers tonight."

"It came down to the last two minutes, when we were drawing 17-17," he says, going on to recall the 78th-minute try by Queensland Reds wing Izaia Perese that sunk Welsh hopes at the Avchala Stadium. "Tonight we've got an opportunity to put that right and turn a loss into a win."

It will be a familiar nine-ten axis for Wales at the Stade de la Mediterranee, with Jones and Blues half-back partner Dane Blacker (a replacement that night in 2017) both back to face the Green and Gold. "Dane's been injured for quite a while so it's nice to be back with him," says Jones of his Blues colleague, who is raring to after missing the whole of this year's Six Nations.

"I've been playing with Dane for three or four years since we were at Coleg y Cymoedd, so we know each other's game inside out. it's easy to play off him because he likes to play same way I do."

Head coach Geraint Lewis suggested his selection for Australia was a matter of horses for courses, but knows he has the talents of fellow Blues fly-half Ben Thomas and scrum-half Harri Morgan waiting patiently in the wings. "We've got really good competition in the half-backs," admits Jones. "We're always kept on our toes, pushing ourselves to make each other better."

The team is allowed some downtime in France, thankfully. They were kept entertained last night with Bridgend quizmasters Dewi Lake and Jack Pope testing their grey matter. "It's good to switch off from rugby sometimes," believes Jones. "We had a bit of fun with the quiz, the staff got involved, and it's good for team bonding."

The U20 Championship is a fine way for Jones to end what has been a remarkable couple of years for the boy from Treharris. Merthyr, for whom he has been playing this season, clinched the league and cup double last month. 

Jones also enjoyed a cup final appearance with Pontypridd at Principality Stadium last year.

"It's been good for Merthyr to get silverware, because I've really enjoyed my time at the Wern. I'm looking forward to next season already and seeing what that's got in store for me."

In the here and now, the World Rugby U20 Championship has his undivided attention. "Playing in front of a big, passionate rugby crowd in France is brilliant," says Jones. "I was lucky enough to play in Montauban during the U20 Six Nations last year, and it was something else.

"You want to go on these trips, explore the world, see different cultures and learn from the players around you. That's what rugby's about: new experiences."

Wales U20 v Australia U20 will be shown live on S4C (including online stream), with coverage starting at 19:45 BST.

Wales U20 team to face Australia: 15 Cai Evans (Ospreys) 14 Rio Dyer (Dragons) 13 Corey Baldwin (Scarlets) 12 Ioan Nicholas (Scarlets) 11 Ryan Conbeer (Scarlets) 10 Ben Jones (Cardiff Blues) 9 Dane Blacker (Cardiff Blues) 1 Rhys Carre (Cardiff Blues) 2 Iestyn Harries (Cardiff Blues) 3 Rhys Henry (Ospreys) 4 Rhys Davies (Bath Rugby) 5 Max Williams (Dragons) 6 Tommy Reffell (c) (Leicester Tigers) 7 Dan Davis (Scarlets) 8 Taine Basham (Dragons)

Replacements: 16 Dewi Lake (Ospreys) 17 Rhys Davies (Scarlets) 18 Will Davies-King (Cardiff Blues) 19 Lewis Ellis-Jones (Scarlets) 20 Lennon Greggains (Dragons) 21 Harri Morgan (Ospreys) 22 Ben Thomas (Cardiff Blues) 23 Joe Goodchild (Dragons)